The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Inga Sarda-Sorensen, Director of Communications
(Office) 646.358.1463

Task Force: Amend the Fair Housing Act to Ban Housing Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

National lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights leader urges Congress to protect LGBT people from pervasive discrimination


National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Action Fund Executive
Director Rea Carey today called on federal lawmakers to amend the Fair
Housing Act to ban discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) people.

Carey made the remarks in her testimony at the House Committee on
the Judiciary, Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and
Civil Liberties hearing, "Protecting the American Dream: A Look at the
Fair Housing Act." The Task Force was the only LGBT rights group
presenting oral testimony at today's historic hearing.

The Fair Housing Act currently prohibits discrimination by direct
providers of housing, such as landlords and real estate companies,
municipalities, banks or other lending institutions, and homeowners
insurance companies whose discriminatory practices make housing
unavailable to people because of race or color, religion, sex, national
origin, family status or disability. Carey urged lawmakers to expand
protections to include LGBT individuals and families.

"For us, the pursuit of the American dream, including home
ownership, is a risky proposition. When our sexual orientation or
gender identity is known, either because we offer it willingly or a
landlord, realtor or lender is made aware by other means, there is
potential for outright hostility, property damage and even physical
violence," Carey testified. "Studies show that in renting apartments,
when callers described themselves as gay or lesbian, apartments are
more likely to be described as unavailable."

Carey also cited preliminary data from a forthcoming and
groundbreaking national survey of transgender and gender identity
discrimination in the U.S. by the Task Force and National Center for
Transgender Equality. More than 6,000 transgender people were surveyed,
with respondents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia,
Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

"Disturbingly, 11 percent of transgender people reported having been
evicted and 19 percent reported becoming homeless due to bias," Carey
told lawmakers. "While the general population has a home ownership rate
of 68 percent, our survey showed only a 32 percent rate among
transgender people."

She testified that LGBT seniors also fall within a higher risk
category in terms of housing challenges. The Task Force recently
released Outing Age 2010, a comprehensive review of elder
policy in the U.S. That study found that employment discrimination over
the lifespan, combined with a lack of recognition of LGBT relationships
and families in federal safety net programs such as Social Security
leave LGBT people especially fragile economically and socially as they
age. This translates into higher rates of housing insecurity among LGBT
elders - either as they try to retain family homes in the face of
long-term care or when they attempt to secure LGBT-friendly elder
housing - which is virtually nonexistent.

While 20 states and D.C. prohibit discrimination on the basis of
sexual orientation and 13 states and D.C. include gender identity,
federal protections are still needed given that implementation and
uniformity of enforcement varies across jurisdictions.

"LGBT individuals suffer pervasive discrimination in so many areas
of their lives," said Carey. "No one should be evicted, be kept from
living in certain areas, or pay more rent simply because of who they
are. Nor should anyone have to lie about who they are in order to have
safe housing. For all these reasons, the Fair Housing Act should be
amended to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and
gender identity."

Download a copy of the submitted testimony

The National LGBTQ Task Force advances full freedom, justice and equality for LGBTQ people. We are building a future where everyone can be free to be their entire selves in every aspect of their lives. Today, despite all the progress we've made to end discrimination, millions of LGBTQ people face barriers in every aspect of their lives: in housing, employment, healthcare, retirement, and basic human rights. These barriers must go. That's why the Task Force is training and mobilizing millions of activists across our nation to deliver a world where you can be you. Join us!